Sometime ago, I created a bucket list of places to visit and activities I would like to do in Barbados. Over the recent public holidays, I was able to accomplish visiting some of these places and doing some of those activities.
I have always found Barbados to have wonderful attractions and places of interest. There is definitely much to see and learn on our island. The historical significance of several of these places is also fascinating. I urge all Barbadians to take a little time and make the effort to explore Barbados and to learn more of its history. Experiencing all that Barbados has to offer is a truly rewarding exercise.
Some weeks ago, I had the chance to hike from Martin’s Bay to Bath. Not a demanding hike but one which gives wonderful views of the East Coast and allows the hiker to see the remnants of the rail line that went from Bridgetown to Belleplaine. I hadn’t realized the number of hikers and groups of hikers that are found in Barbados. I was happy to learn that a significant number of Barbadians engage in hiking.
From gruelling hikes to simple hikes, it appears that we do have access to a wide range of possibilities. For a country that doesn’t have mountains, it is still noteworthy that there are several parts on the island where great hikes can take place. I understand that “mountain-biking” is also an established pastime. The Great Train Hike which takes the hiker from Fairchild Street to Belleplaine is one that I would consider gruelling. I don’t have it on my bucket list but I admire those who have done it.
Hiking is one activity, it seems, that is definitely good for one’s health and mental well-being. Doctors have been lauding the benefits. In an article I came across, it was stated: “While it may seem obvious that a good hike through a forest or up a mountain can cleanse your mind, body, and soul, science is now discovering that hiking can actually change your brain . . . for the better! Aside from the almost instant feeling of calm and contentment that accompanies time outdoors, hiking in nature can reduce rumination.”
The article went on: “Many of us often find ourselves consumed by negative thoughts, which takes us out of the enjoyment of the moment at best and leads us down a path to depression and anxiety at worst. But a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending time in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts by a significant margin.”
So if we accept these findings, let us all make the effort to get out there and hike around a bit.
On my bucket list was a visit to Penny Hole (Gemswick) and the Harp Gun site close by. The gun is located at the Paragon Base of the Barbados Defence Force so permission has to be sought to visit it. I had grown up hearing about the gun. The story is intriguing. Many of the younger generation, however, do not have a clue about the gun and its history in Barbados.
As I researched the gun and spoke to others, I found even more fascinating information. For example, I wasn’t aware that as the gun fired, households for miles around could feel the vibrations. One of the main scientists behind this project, Gerald Bull, was the subject of a movie on his exploits especially after he left Barbados and was assassinated in the 90’s.
I shared this information with family and friends who were excited to learn more and eager to visit. I strongly recommend that consideration be given to developing the Harp Gun site into an ‘interpretive site’ for visitors and locals. As explained, ‘interpretive sites’ are one way to inform visitors of the significance of an area. They help to convey meanings and relationships contained in an area or site.
They inform through personal experience and illustrative media, helping the visitor to gain a deeper understanding of the land. Interpretation is many things; a teaching technique, an education and information service. It increases people’s natural and cultural appreciation for an area. Interpretation takes many forms, from guided nature walks to informative audio.
Increasing our offerings of places to see and experience in Barbados is becoming more and more critical. With the number of repeat visitors to our island, as witnessed so regularly by the Prime Minister’s receptions for these visitors, there is need to provide alternative, new and fresh places of interest. Creating interpretive sites such as at the Harp Gun is one option in perhaps many available options found in Barbados. And these options can be income generating, sustaining themselves financially and making returns on the investment.
Recently, I was invited to attend a night walk around the Garrison. I jokingly responded and asked what am I expected to see around the Garrison at night besides persons who are busy in their trade? However, the walk did turn out to be a wonderful experience and learning exercise into the history of the Garrison and its environs.
We were taken through a small portion of the tunnels recently re-discovered and around the buildings down into Drill Hall and on to the Military Cemetery. Along the walk were stops to have the history explained and significant events in history highlighted by skilled actors. It is worth it and hats off to James Blades, Peter Stevens and all others behind this venture. The website is: http://barbadosgarrison.net/
Last Monday, May 1, I got the chance to strike another wish off my list. A visit to Culpepper Island. Thanks to my surname namesake (but no immediate relative), David Bulbulia, he led a group of us on a hike from Skeetes Bay to Culpepper Island. We waited for low tide and then waded across to the island. It was nice to set foot on the island described in a Barbados Museum & Historical Society article as “Barbados’ only other “dependency”.
Fun Barbados website (http://www.funbarbados.com/Sights/S_culpepper_island.cfm) states: “This uninhabited island called ‘CULPEPPER ISLAND’ is a small rock which has only wild shrubs and coconut trees, is located just over 250ft off Barbados . . . . Its name came from the Culpepper Family who owned property in this area during the 1700’s. The size of the island is approx. 70ft x 100ft and is about 20ft above sea level. It is separated from Barbados by a channel of about 100ft wide and is the only one left of the two islands located off Barbados. During March of 2006, the Lokono-Arawak and Karifuna-Carib tribes made claim to Culpepper Island. They were descendants of Princess Marian, daughter of the last Hereditary Lokono Arawak Chief Amorotahe Haubariria (Flying Harpy Eagle) of the Eagle Clan, and the Karifuna Carib ambassadors from the island of Dominica.”
Again, these are places that can be considered for development into attractions but without the concrete and modern structures. All natural. I posted my adventure to Culpepper Island on social media and was pleasantly surprised by the interest it generated with many persons indicating their desire to do the same.
Increasing the offerings to Barbadians and visitors of places to see and activities to do, I am sure, will help in the generation of economic activity and social interaction. But please, as we go about doing all that is suggested, remember the environment and don’t litter. I did see plastic bottles etc. strewn around in some places. A subject for another column.
(Suleiman Bulbulia is a Justice of the Peace.
Secretary of the Barbados Muslim Association and Muslim Chaplain at the Cave Hill Campus, UWI.